Chairman of Munya Local Government Area, Niger State, Alhaji Mohammed Garba Dazz, recently confirmed to journalists that about 30 gunmen invaded the local government area, killing three soldiers, including a captain, and holding villagers hostage for hours. The Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Hussaini, tells ENYIOHA OPARA the incident was the worst experience had in the local government
How many people were affected in recent attack by bandits in Munya Local Government Area?
Over 2,500 residents in various communities in the Munya Local Government Area of Niger State have been forced out of their homes as a result of incessant attacks by bandits. The situation was worsened by last Sunday’s (January 5, 2020) attack when bandits took over Kabuka community and converted it into their operational base. Other communities affected by the attacks are Inga Kasa, Anguwan Bussa, Galuwi, Almujere, Toko, Anguwan Kwata and Anguwan Zarumai. The attacks also affected communities in Katarma and Kuduru in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, which shares borders with Niger State. Residents from the two communities have also taken refuge in parts of Niger State.
Has your agency been able to assess the damage caused by the attack by bandits?
Yes, the Niger State Emergency Management Agency has visited the scene of the incident to ascertain the extent of damage, number of casualties and plight of the people, which we have reported to the state government accordingly. We have taken the statistics of women and children that were displaced and the number of communities affected. We are making arrangements to lessen the suffering of the innocent people in the areas attacked by the bandits. We are still on it; this is a new year and the annual budget has not been passed by the Niger State House of Assembly. But the local government has taken it upon itself, through the emergency management committee, to intervene and alleviate the plight of the affected people, especially women and children. I must commend the local government for its quick intervention in the communities affected.
How many camps were provided by your organisation?
The Niger State governor has directed NSEMA to quickly establish internally displaced persons’ camp and we have done that at Sarkin Pawa Primary School for the 2, 500 affected persons. We provided food items, and sleeping and sanitary materials. Also, some affected people were camped at one Christian church in Sarkin Pawa whose people extended their hands of kindness to the victims.
You said some Kaduna communities were also affected, so is it true that most of the people affected are not from Niger State?
Yes, 60 per cent of those affected are not from Niger State. They are from Kaduna and other neighbouring states; they were equally forced out of their communities by the bandits and we provided them with food items, sanitary and sleeping materials to ameliorate the situation.
Specifically, how did the bandits operate?
Report reaching the agency from the local guards in the troubled areas in Munya indicated that the bandits numbering over 150 came there using about 50 motorbikes. They slept at Luwi village in Zazzaga area and rustled 500 cows on January 6, 2020. We understand they are now moving towards Mangoro axis on their way back to Kofa camp in the Gadani area of Kaduna State.
How equipped are you to take care of the wounded persons? Do you even have enough personnel?
Yes, we have adequate medical personnel. The state has made provisions for that and if there is any issue they cannot handle, they refer them to the nearest general hospital in the area. We have scores of wounded civilians we are treating and they are responding to treatment. No civilian was killed during the attack, though many of them sustained varying degrees of injury and were attended to medically. The state and local governments have provided the required drugs for victims.
What is the state government doing to ensure that those bandits are brought to justice?
The state government has mobilised the Joint Task Force for reinforcement and they are already on the trail of the bandits. The state cannot allow bandits to the over; Niger state is equal to the task and the security agencies are ready for any eventualities. They will meet their Waterloo soon.
Culled from Punch